This week in Israel: after the elections, putting together a coalition

As predicted, Ehud Olmert‘s Kadima won the most Knesset (parliament) seats in last week's national elections, with 29 of the 120 seats. Likud, headed by Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu was crushed: it won only 11 seats, compared to 38 in the 2003 elections.

Labour, headed by Amir Peretz, came in next with 19 seats. Kadima and Labour have a combined 48 seats and they will form the base of the governing coalition. Now Olmert needs to find additional partners who will give him at least another 13 seats for the minimum of 61 needed to form a government. Who will he invite to join, and what kind of a deal will they make?

Below is a roundup of opinions on the ongoing coalition negotiations, followed by some non-political posts.

With her extensive real time election coverage, Allison left all the other Israeli bloggers in the dust – big time. Her blog is essential reading for excellent (and frequently hilarious) commentary and fantastic links. Journalist Mark Glaser picked her out for special mention in his column for MediaShift on the PBS site. Over the past week she has been updating her blog several times daily with links and commentary on the coalition building process. There are so many great posts that I can't link to just one or two here. Just go over to her blog and take a look – it's the blog fan's equivalent of a candy store.

Don Radlauer serves up an in-depth analysis of what the election results mean. This is essential reading for a sober look at the numbers and what they say about “ideas that won and lost.” What do the results say about Israel's feelings regarding the peace process, further withdrawals from occupied territory (“disengagement“) and their country's social ills – like poverty and the overburdened education system? Read Don to find out.

Fayrouz posts a letter from a friend who thinks that the Arab parties do a bad job of representing their constituents, Israel's Arab minority, in the Knesset.

Shai summarizes Amir Peretz's bizarre attempt to bypass Olmert and try to form a coalition with right-wing parties in order to become prime minister. Peretz and Olmert have since “kissed and made up.”

Yonatan casts a jaundiced eye on the unseemly haggling that characterizes the coalition building process, pointing out that:

The flawed, primitive ( in my eyes ) voting system gives parties’ representatives the opportunity to haggle over parliamentary seats and leaves the public – and the (wo)men who are supposed to build the coalition – in the dark about the final results of the election. That does not help to gain the people's trust in democracy.

Not politics!

Ra'anana Ramblings describes the food drive at her local supermarket. As the Passover holiday approaches, the dire situation of Israel's many poor means that they will not be able to afford a festive seder meal on the first night of the holiday. To help, several organizations have begun collecting donated food.

Over at the group blog One Jerusalem (OJ), Jill is up to Part Seven of her ongoing memoir, Not Jewish?! What are you doing here? It's the middle of Gulf War Two, her boyfriend has been called up for army reserve duty, and suddenly he sorta kinda pops the question. This means that Jill has to face the “C” word (convert), because she knows that her boyfriend would want their children to be Jewish. She never thought of herself as a religious Christian, but suddenly she starts to wonder what religion really means to her.

And Stephanie has written a fabulous post about about an exhibition of cutting edge Israeli graffiti artists’ street art at a trendy downtown Manhattan art gallery. Check out her posts for links to the extremely cool sites of some very hip Israeli artists. (I think Rami Meiri‘s site is amazing).

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